I mean, that’s pretty much it. There are a couple of Roughnecks games to be played, and they can still make the playoffs, but it will be as a lower seed. And then the only sport left in Calgary will be football.
Hockey is over here. But at least it was a really fun way to go out.
Seasonal milestones everywhere
Mikael Backlund scored his first career hat trick. His 21 goals are a new career high, as are his 46 points. The 81 games he’s played are a career high, too – one more!
Joe Colborne has scored 19 goals, so he’s one off from having a much prettier number. His 44 points are the most he’s scored since his final season in the AJHL, when he put up 90 points over 55 games. Something tells me he’s probably never going to meet that total again, but his previous high was 42 points over 65 games for the Toronto Marlies in 2012-13.
Dougie Hamilton scored a goal and an assist. His 12 goals are a career high, as are his 43 points. It’ll be exciting to see what he can do from the start of next season, when he should be getting top four minutes and first unit power play time from the get-go – and probably excelling with it, now that we’re well past the adjustment period.
Sam Bennett is an 18-18-36 player over 76 games. That’s a very pretty stat line. It sure would be nice to see him hit 20 goals, though, and become the third Flames rookie in a row to do that. Reaching half a point per game would be nice as well, but probably less realistic. How about next year?
Johnny Gaudreau has 78 points in 78 games. Two seasons in, and he’s a point per game player; he’d better not mess it up before the season ends. Actually, 80 is a nice number, let’s get to that. Let’s get greedy, because this is it for a while.
Mark Giordano’s 21 goals and 56 points are career highs. T.J. Brodie’s 45 points are also a career high. Throw Hamilton into the mix, and that’s 144 points between three defencemen. That’s fun. It’d be cool if they can get it up to 150, but that’s probably a goal for next season. (They probably could have with a healthy Brodie year-round, though.)
Three three-point nights
Backlund had a hat trick. Colborne had a goal and two assists. And the less-heralded Matt Stajan had three assists, assisting on two Backlund goals, as well as Deryk Engelland’s.
Backlund’s hat trick came about in beautiful fashion: a power play goal, an even strength goal, and a shorthanded goal to top it all off (he has three on the season, which is tied for sixth overall in the NHL). He’s a player that can be used in all situations. He’s an exemplary defender, he excels at even strength, and hey, he’s got the skill to put pucks in the net, too; that’s just not his main quality.
He’s basically the perfect utility guy. And should he fall into place as a third line centre, you know if one of the Flames’ top two guys gets hurt, they aren’t screwed, because Backlund can step in and take their place. He’s been over a half a point per game for four seasons now, his numbers are just especially impressive this time around because, for the first time in his career, he’s been healthy all year.
This season was like Backlund’s mainstream coming out party. He’s always been pretty good, but this season was the best he’s ever been.
Besides, he was an absolute force throughout the night. The dude took it especially hard to both the Oilers and Canucks, and he seems to really hate those two teams more than others. How can one not love him? He was meant to play for this team.
On the other hand, while Colborne is having a great year, the Flames should tread carefully with him. Unlike Backlund, he’s a bit of a late bloomer, and unlike Backlund, he still spent quite a bit of time this season looking like he didn’t even belong at all.
Coincidentally, that seems to have changed since… about the time he was put with Backlund, actually.
|Colborne with Backlund||Colborne without Backlund||Backlund without Colborne|
Make no mistakes about it: Backlund is the one driving the bus. This isn’t necessarily like the way he was with Lance Bouma last season – I wouldn’t at all be shocked to see Colborne score 34 points next year, but Bouma ever reaching those heights again would surprise me – but it is important to keep in mind who’s driving the play, and who’s supporting it.
Also, while Colborne is up to five points on the power play now, it’s important to note he’s played 145:18 minutes on the man advantage. And for the first 80 of those minutes, he didn’t have a single power play point. He was continuously fed chances and nothing materialized for a very long time. Backlund, meanwhile, has played 129:12 on the power play and has nine points.
If Colborne is on the Flames’ first power play unit to start next season, then it means either the Flames haven’t acquired any new offensive personnel, or they simply aren’t willing to try anyone else (a healthy Michael Frolik, perhaps?). He may have gotten better, but those first 80 minutes didn’t happen in a vacuum, and should not – cannot – be discounted.
As for Stajan, he’s sadly overpaid and the most expendable centre on this roster now, but it was nice to see him have a big night. He’s only had one other multi-point game this season: a goal and an assist over the New Jersey Devils back on Nov. 17, 2015. The last time he had a three-point game was on March 22, 2014, when he put up four points in the Flames’ 8-1 win over the Oilers.
Shots, shots, shots
The Flames outshot the Canucks 43-27, and there weren’t really any stragglers on the home side. Monahan led the charge with six, Hamilton had five of his own, and Backlund, Engelland, Jakub Nakladal, Hunter Shinkaruk, and Derek Grant had four apiece. That’s 31 shots between seven players.
Colborne and Bennett both had three each, Gaudreau had two, and Jyrki Jokipakka, Josh Jooris, Drew Shore, and Brandon Bollig all threw in a shot of their own.
So who didn’t get a shot in? Not Stajan, he was busy passing to Backlund all night. Micheal Ferland didn’t, either. And most curious of all: both Giordano and Brodie never got a single puck on net, though they did get an assist each.
Everyone gets to play
Nobody got shortchanged when it came to ice time in the Flames’ final home game of the season. Four defencemen – Giordano, Hamilton, Brodie, and Jokipakka – all went over 20 minutes, but Engelland was right behind them with 18:23 played. Nakaldal was left wanting a little more, down at 15:51, though.
Giordano and Brodie got big minutes on both the power play and penalty kill, while Hamilton got big minutes with the man advantage and decent ones on the kill. Jokipakka and Engelland were used heavily on the kill, but not at all on the power play; the opposite was true for Nakladal.
As for forwards, Monahan and Bennett played the most with 17:56 and 16:12, respectively. Everyone else – including Gaudreau, Backlund, and Colborne – hovered closer to the 14-minute mark. Bollig played the least, and he still got 11:54 in, and that’s with him missing out on five minutes due to fighting.
It was a nice way to say goodbye to the home fans: have everyone participate, everyone on the ice in fair distribution, most of the team getting pucks on net, and a lot of goals. See you in October, Saddledome.